Meet the Founding father of Non Denim, the Label That is “Acutely aware by Design”

Pictures courtesy of Non. DESIGN BY Danielle Campbell.

Pete Hellyer launched Non with the ambition of constructing change within the denim house. This is what it is advisable to know in regards to the new London-based line.

Like many people over the previous yr, Pete Hellyer — founding father of Non, a denim-centric label primarily based in London — has been trying to find which means. With 15 years of expertise within the e-commerce and digital realms of the style trade, he discovered his client-based work was changing into extra sporadic because the pandemic’s maintain intensified. “I had quite a lot of free time, and there was quite a lot of uncertainty,” says Hellyer, who had labored as artistic director for companies together with Ssense and The Outnet earlier than going freelance.

To deliver a bit of cheer into his life, Hellyer — who, once more like many people, discovered himself primarily sporting loungewear all through lockdown — determine to deal with himself to a pair of denims. “I dwell in denim,” he notes of his typical apparel. “I’m a kind of folks with a uniform [of] a white tee and denims.”

Discovering a pair with satisfying model, sustainability and moral manufacturing credentials proved troublesome for Hellyer, however the course of sparked an thought. “I assumed, I’ve obtained quite a lot of time on my palms — I’ll make some.” Initially predicting that he may produce a small run of denims that had been each ethically made and environmentally pleasant, the extra Hellyer researched and investigated supplies and manufacturing, the extra he realized he’d have to reinforce his scope to show his thought right into a actuality. “Making 100 pairs wasn’t potential” with the minimums that exist within the textile trade, he says. And so, Non was born.

non denim
Pictures courtesy of Ssense

“I had no intention to launch a vogue model, and I don’t determine as a dressmaker,” Hellyer notes, describing the origins of his line as a “completely satisfied accident.” The identify speaks to Non’s lack of emblem and branded components, in addition to the truth that the items are non-gendered and its manufacturing endeavours to be non-wasteful. And unofficially, it’s an acronym for the concept of “Now or by no means” — a prescient provocation given the perpetually tumultuous occasions we dwell in.

“What I’ve actually loved is that it’s given me a way of objective,” says Hellyer of the way it’s felt to dive into this new endeavour that has such a well timed mandate. “It’s a mission I actually purchase into and imagine in, which I haven’t possibly at all times had in my work. Within the vogue trade, there’s not at all times objective behind every thing that we do.”

Regardless of its admirable ambitions, Hellyer is hesitant to explain Non as “sustainable,” as an alternative bestowing it with the ethos of “Acutely aware by Design.” The label’s vary of selvedge denim items, which embrace a wide range of jean types, jackets and equipment, are made in Turkey by Isko, a mill that pays staff a residing wage and is a bluesign® SYSTEM companion (which means it adheres to strict and protected manufacturing protocols which have an environmentally-sound focus).

non denim
Pictures courtesy of Non

“I wished to push each ingredient so far as we may,” Hellyer notes of the model’s use of vegan natural and recycled supplies, in addition to its unisex design philosophy. Non additionally affords a take-back program for its wares, which means prospects can ship in outdated gadgets, that are donated or recycled, and obtain a reduction their subsequent order.

Moreover, Hellyer strives to offer Non’s clothes an innate versatility (i.e. you’ll be able to put on them both fitted or outsized) that lends to longevity. “If in case you have a jacket which you could put on a number of methods, it’s like having 4 jackets,” he says of how he envisions design practices enabling prospects to undertake higher consumption habits going ahead. “And it’s vital that [these] are gadgets that don’t age.”

Whereas Non’s types may need an aesthetically timeless high quality, in addition they possess a decidedly fashionable facet: The inclusion of a scannable NFC tag that enables customers to glean garment care directions and details about the piece’s provenance. This intelligent little bit of tech, created by Non companion Eon, additionally affords future recyclers a breakdown of knowledge to “enhance end-of-life administration” of the merchandise, in accordance with the model’s web site.

“I’ve at all times wrestled with working in vogue to some extent,” Hellyer says about why he’s taken such measures along with his fledgling label. “I’m an enormous advocate of private model and self-expression and individuality; however inherently, being a sustainable model within the vogue trade is an issue as a result of the philosophy of the trade is the issue. The very definition of it’s primarily based on redundancy — the truth that one thing is extraordinarily wanted after which not desired six months later.”

non denim
Pictures courtesy of Ssense

In grappling with the complexities of need, want and waste, Hellyer has opted to take an method with Non that centres round transparency as an alternative of preaching to or inundating prospects with pie charts and infrequently mystifying certifications. “I believe that’s why greenwashing is unfortunately so efficient,” he says about how insider and intellectualized a lot of the dialogue round “sustainable vogue” has develop into. Hellyer describes the data offered on Non’s web site as “warts and all,” indicating that there’s nonetheless extra he needs to enhance on inside its manufacturing framework. And it displays the paradoxical nature of sustainability within the vogue world.

Hellyer highlights how the present panorama leaves little margin for enchancment as so many facets of it are handled as binary points, and that the acknowledgement of who will get to be a “aware client” can be desperately missing. “You might have individuals who have cash to play costume up and may afford to put on ethically-made merchandise,” he says. “[But] it’s arduous to disclaim somebody who doesn’t have the disposable earnings the identical form of pleasure or self-expression as a result of they will solely afford garments which are sadly made much less ethically.”

For his half, Hellyer hopes that the strides he and different like-minded manufacturers are making will affect and encourage extra mass companies, which means that in the end, each client could make higher calls in terms of clothes and accent purchases. “It’s thrilling that issues are transferring faster in sure instructions,” he says of the gaining groundswell of biomaterial analysis, thought-about manufacturing practices and mounting circularity within the model house. But as he so rightly continues, inclusivity have to be a part of the equation to really make these gestures significant.

“If we will be a part of that dialog and present processes and supplies that assist make a change in greater manufacturers and wider elements of the trade, that’s going to have a larger impression than if I make a thousand pairs of denims actually ethically and sustainably,” he notes. “That’s not going to alter the world.”

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